Tag Archive | perspective

Vision

It’s really hard for me to think of the year 2020 without thinking of the word “vision”! While I certainly do not have 20/20 vision in my old age, I’d like to think I do have vision... “the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom.” I have always struggled thinking about 5 or 10 years out, but I do always like to start the new year thinking about my goals and aspirations for the year ahead.

What would I like to accomplish, professionally and personally? What have I been putting off? Where have I been wasting time or talents? Who would I like to spend more time with? What do I need to clear out to make room for the new?

Right now, my vision is a bit short-term, needing to get through surgery and recovery in January. I may do “New Year’s Revisited” after all that, to re-focus and set more specific goals. Being in limbo with the dates makes it a little challenging to plan too far ahead, but that doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about it or planning beyond that. Health scares do help with prioritizing what’s important… if this was your last year on Earth, what would you want to accomplish? What would you want to leave behind? (Don’t worry, I’m not planning on going anywhere anytime soon, but we never know, do we?)

I think it’s important to take a look back, as well. What worked, what didn’t? What should you do more of? When did you feel your best? What motivated you? Where did you find your joy, and how do you get more of that going forward?

2019 was pretty awesome for us: Book release, senior year “lasts”, musical achievements, graduation, Italy, Virginia, college, speaking engagements, a grandbaby, photography, concerts galore, time with family and friends… and so much more! Yes, cancer stepped in, as well, but that doesn’t take away from all the wonderful things we got to experience in 2019.

So where do you see yourself in the New Year? What’s your vision?

Happy New Year, everyone! And thanks for your loyal readership! Here’s to good things in 2020!

IMDb: Vision (2009)

20 Years After

It’s been a very long time (5 months) since I posted anything on this blog. I’d like you to know that, even though I’ve been silent on this page, I continue to write. I am in the process of writing my first book and I’m working towards a release in March. It’s been a labor of love and I’m having a lot of fun with the process. I promise more details in the coming weeks, but today’s post is focused on a major anniversary of sorts.

*****

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the death of my first husband, Ray Noll. As many of you know, Ray died in 1999 after an almost-3-year battle with leukemia. I believe it’s important to remember these anniversaries so that we can all remember who he was, relish in the fun memories we all have, and remind ourselves just how precious life is. Acknowledging his diagnosis, battle, and death helps provide amazing perspective about what’s truly important in our lives.

Those who knew Ray loved him dearly. His sense of humor and zeal for life were contagious and showed up best when he was on a stage with a guitar in his hand. His talents were beyond comprehension (who teaches themselves to skillfully play the mandolin in 24 hours?) and he was the ultimate performer. Every friend he every made remained his friend for life; I don’t know a single person who didn’t love him. He was fun and silly and knew how to be happy.

One of the most fit people I have ever know, when he wasn’t performing on stage, Ray was at karate. A second degree black belt in Tang Soo Do, he was addicted to the hard work and sweat of this sport. He gained a new circle of friends at the karate school, and he was passionate about teaching the next generation of karate students. When I was looking for a picture of Ray for this post, I stumbled upon this one. Ray doing staff work in the back yard.

Ray Karate in Yard 2 Resized

The three days leading up to Ray’s death were a bedside vigil of sorts, where so many of those friends showed up to pay homage to someone who fought so hard to live. I remember the karate gang showing up in the wee hours of the morning to help see him off. Family, coworkers, childhood friends, fellow musicians… they all came.

It’s interesting that, all these years later, so many people remember him — even those who cared for him during his illness. Just yesterday, I accompanied a friend to her chemo treatment. We were having a conversation with her nurse about the particular drug being administered. I was telling the story of Ray receiving this drug back in 1996 (it was a memorable occasion), and after we got to talking a bit more, it turned out this nurse was one of Ray’s nurses back on Mercy 8E. She remembered Ray well, and we reminisced about all the wonderful people who took care of him back then. When I think of all the people this nurse would have attended to over the past 20+ years, what are the chances she would remember Ray? Well, that’s the kind of impact he had on people, and so I’m not really surprised.

My life has taken a number of twists and turns since that day 20 years ago when, as a 36 year old, I was picking planning out a cemetery plot and planning his funeral. I know that he is always with me and I know that he would be happy that I got to be a mom and that I am pursuing my dream of writing a book. As someone who believes in the power of mediums, I can tell you that Ray always comes through — he’d never miss a party!

On this anniversary, I’d like to ask you to think about him. For those of you who knew him well: have a shot of Sambuca or a Heineken and give him a “salut!” (Heck, even if you didn’t, feel free to send up a toast!) For those of you who did not know him, take a moment to appreciate the joyful moments in your life, whatever is going on right now. Life is fleeting; find the joy now.

Ray with Cigarette in car

(Happy 59th anniversary to my parents in heaven.)

IMDb: 20 Years After (2008)

Two Years at Sea

Today is the second anniversary of my diagnosis with breast cancer. I will never forget exactly where I was standing (in EPCOT, near the Chinese gate, along the lake) when the call came. It was just before lunchtime and my cell phone rang. I knew before I looked who it was and what the message would be. It was the radiologist who had done my biopsy just five short days earlier.

I knew from the moment of the biopsy that it was cancer. I probably knew even before that, as the discomfort and hardness of my breast had increased over the prior few months. It was more worrisome waiting for the news than it was actually hearing it.

We picked at our lunches at the Chinese restaurant while David and I furiously Google’d the cancer type on our iPhones in silence and wondered separately what it would all mean. At that time, we only knew “Invasive Lobular Carcinoma”. It wouldn’t be until much later that we would learn the stage, size, etc. It was a day I will never forget and that would change my life in a hundred ways (including, but not limited to: enlightenment of the food-health connection, transformation of the way we eat, disillusionment with the American standard of healthcare, the ability to inform and influences hundreds of people through this blog, and a new perspective for life, in general).

I imagine it’s an anniversary I will count each and every year, for as long as I can. And I will be grateful for each of those anniversaries — and every day in between.

*****

IMDb: Two Years At Sea (2011)

Cape Fear

As a two time winner of the cancer lottery (two unrelated cancers), the fear of getting cancer again is part of my daily existence.  With every ache or pain, every bruise, every symptom, I can’t but wonder if it’s cancer-related.  I realize this sounds a bit paranoid, and it probably is.  But I would be lying if I didn’t say that the thoughts of another cancer scares the shit out of me.

The thought of cancer is always with me.  It’s there with every morsel of food or drink that I put in my mouth.  (Is it a healthy choice?)  It’s there with every movement that hurts and reminds me of the side effects.  It is there every time I look at my son and I wonder if I will get to see him grow to be a man.  I know that’s not a guarantee for any of us, but there’s a greater awareness of mortality when you have to face cancer head on.

This past week has been harder for me than usual, for some reason.  There are the ongoing Femara side effects which seem to accumulate after a period of time (prompting me to take a break).  I am in some form of pain always.  There are those UTI symptoms, with a negative UTI lab result.  There’s the headache that has persisted a few days this week, and pain that shoots from my right shoulder blade down to my fingers.  All this pain starts to get to you after a while.  How do you know what’s “just” a side effect, what’s something normal (sinus infection, stress, etc.), and what’s something that you really need to pay attention to?  For me, I guess I need to pay attention to all of it, but it’s exhausting.  In the absence of solid answers from the medical community, I spend a lot of time reading and Googling and chatting with others in the same boat trying to make sense of it on my own.  This is good and bad.  Sometimes I find an article that makes me feel relieved; other times I find something that scares me.  But I want to be on my guard and can’t wait to see my doctors to get answers.

Maybe over time my paranoia will subside.  I sure hope it does, as I think it would drive me crazy after a while.  I don’t want to forget it, as the cancer perspective allows you to look at life differently and to appreciate the little things.  It’s the fear that also drives me to do all the healthy things I can for my body.  I don’t want to get complacent or lose that fighting instinct.

A friend posted the following prayer on Facebook tonight and the timing is so perfect.  I have been praying for healing in a multitude of ways.  Loved this one!  (Thanks, Beth!)

New recipe tonight… Roasted Cabbage.  It sounded a lot better than it was.  Maybe it was because I excluded the bacon bits!  🙂  I’m trying to increase my cruciferous vegetables, but this wasn’t the way to do it.

Cape Fear (1991) – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0101540/

Drugstore Cowboy

For the last two weeks, I have been taking my Femara every three days and monitoring my blood pressure.  So far, so good.  As of yesterday, I moved to my “every other day” mode.  I will continue to monitor my blood pressure and the other side effects to determine if that frequency makes sense.  I have been taking two herbal hormones diligently for the past few weeks also — Flash Ease, which is Black Cohosh and Dong Quai Root, and Wild Yam & Chaste Tree.  Those really seem to be helping both my energy level and the joint pain.  While the joint pain is not completely gone, it has certainly lessened.  I am hoping that prolonged taking of the herbal hormones will help even more over time.

I had a call tonight from my dear college friend, Michele, who offered her support and perspective on the whole Femara topic.  As a 10 year survivor of breast cancer, she’s “been there”, and understands what I’m feeling more than most.  She also started with Femara, way back when, and was switched to Tamoxifen after the Femara was causing similar side effects.  Eventually, she was given permission to stop taking it all together.  As she reminded me, it really is a crap shoot sometimes.  You can follow the doctor’s orders to the letter of the law and still get a recurrence.  Or you can be completely a bad patient, not listen to a word, and live a long life.  It’s really up to each person to listen to their own intuition, make the right decisions for themselves, and make the most of life.  All great advice!  (Love you, Michele!)  I’m encouraged that her doctor gave her permission to stop taking it and she’s a 10 year survivor.  (I have no delusions that MY doctor will give the same permission.  She, of course, would not be happy with my Femara vacation, nor my self-imposed schedule…hence my cowboy reference.)

So for the time being, we will try the every-other-day approach and monitor vitals and side effects.  And we’ll go from there!

In other news…

Dad is down to SIX radiation treatments and it can’t end too soon for him and Mom.  He’s really tired, has lost more weight, and was nauseous this week.  I”m glad the weekend is near for him to recover a bit before the final week.

In a conversation with someone at work today about supplements, it occurred to me that I have not been taking my Vitamin B (which is recommended for vegetarians).  Oops!  Need to get back on that!

My wheat grass is growing nicely.  Sprouting like crazy!

wheat grass 2013-08-22

Happy Birthday to Me

One year ago today I was celebrating my 50th birthday with family and friends.  Although I accepted this milestone reluctantly, I felt pretty good at 50.  Little did I know that a few short weeks later, I would receive my breast cancer diagnosis.

What a year it’s been!

I am grateful for all the things this past year has taught me.  It has been a reminder of my many blessings.  It has taught me patience, priorities, and perspective.   I have learned more about health and nutrition than I ever imagined.  Gardening, juicing and blogging are my newest skills.  And I have learned to savor every moment I can get.

Today I am grateful to have this year behind me and am looking forward to a healthier future.

Good-bye 50.  Helloooo 51!